Natalie Bookchin’s work explores some of the far-reaching consequences of Internet and digital technologies. Her video installations address the ramifications of mass connectivity and global flows of images on our identities, our desires, and the truths we tell about ourselves and the world. Exploring the relationship between so-called
participatory culture and the public sphere, her installations investigate how the concepts of public space and identity are transformed in an era of ubiquitous connectivity and small screens. Her work is exhibited widely including at MoMa, LACMA, PS1, and the Whitney Museum. She has received numerous grants and awards, including from Creative Capital, the Guggenheim, and most recently, the MacArthur Foundation. Bookchin lives in Brooklyn and teaches media art at Rutgers University.
Long Story Short (Work-In-Progress)
Long Story Short is a composite group interview that will take form as a film, an installation, and an interactive website drawn from and linked to an archive of video diaries. 75 very low income residents of Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area reflect on poverty in America – causes, challenges, misperceptions, and solutions. Multiple frames of videos sit side by side, with voices woven together to align and intersect, suggesting a new form of social cinema, and that for many of poverty’s narratives are fundamentally shared.
Long Story Short makes a link between the rise in digital network culture and the drastic increase in poverty. Video diaries were made using webcams and laptops – the tools of amateur online video and some of the same technologies – high tech and digital – that ushered in hardships for low-skilled workers and their families in the first place, leading to a shrinking demand and lower wages for unskilled labor. The video diaries – inserted within the vernacular of social media – bare the markings of that genre: its direct address, intimacy, informality, and faces illuminated by the screen. The potential to travel across digital networks and platforms is written on their surface.
Long Story Short draws inspiration from the more promising aspects of network culture – the shift away from a focus on single voices to that of many and the expansion of who gets to speak in public and of what we now consider expert knowledge. Yet social media has also produced a class of overvisible and a class of unseen – those whose data is not worth much. Long Story Short making visible the limits of who we typically find speaking to us on our screens. It responds to our current moment of increasing and dramatic economic inequality, and explores how depictions of poverty might benefit from, as well as reflect on, current modes of digital and image mobility, dissemination, and display. It explores lives mostly not seen, and not often represented in public, especially not in digital form, and not on our screens. It proposes a more social media.